Palooka is a 1934 comedy film based on the comic strip by Ham Fisher. Joe Palooka (Stuart Erwin) is a naive young man whose father Pete (Robert Armstrong) was a champion boxer, but his lifestyle caused Joe's mother Mayme (Marjorie Rambeau) to leave him and to take young Joe to the country to raise him. But when a shady boxing manager (Jimmy Durante) discovers Joe's natural boxing talent, Joe decides to follow him to the big city, where he becomes a champion and begins to follow his father's path of debauchery, much of it including the glamorous cabaret singer Nina Madero (Lupe Velez). The film also stars William Cagney, the younger brother of actor James Cagney.
June 26, 2011 Subject:
The REAL star of the show
...and when Durante did send the kid the winnings, did you notice how quickly mom snatched it out of his hands and stuffed it in her purse? Once you look past The Schnoz and his usual attention-getting antics, the main character of this film turns out to be Mayme (Maw) Palooka (Marjorie Rambeau) from start to finish, and the story is the familiar caricature of the American family, with the men portrayed as ineffectual or unreliable strutting peacocks, while mom is the one who runs things and actually holds the family together. I Love Lucy used a similar formula (Ricky Ricardo having been the quintessential strutting peacock) but, where Lucy played it strictly for comedy, this film plays it more for drama, which makes it more a commentary on American family life than a caricature of it.
Though this film was classified as a comedy both on its IMDb page and by the uploader, it impresses me as being a comedy-drama, with some comedic moments, but mostly serious content. Marjorie Rambeau certainly plays her part straight, as do the rest of the cast, and even Durante's role as the crooked boxing manager is mostly a serious one, even though he does his shtick throughout (much of which was clearly wedged forcibly into the story). Marjorie's portrait of a single mom who doesn't really want her "baby" to grow up, and never teaches him the essentials of life (like how to distinguish between genuine folk and the phony gold diggers and conniving users) hits particularly close to home. I'm afraid I didn't find very much to laugh at.
All this is not to say that I thought the film to be poor quality (just not much of a comedy). It was well written, and tells its story loud and clear: a young man is allowed to learn the hard way that "mother knows best," because no one ever bothered to teach him how to know for himself. The cast are terrific, and turn in a fine performance. And yeah, Billie Cagney is the spittin' image of his brother, right down to the haircut.
Reviewer:Dr Feel Rotten
December 12, 2010 Subject:
The old schnoz has a kid
And what a BUTT ugly kid at that,,hatchachacha..
I actually thought Palooka was going to win for a while then thought about mom and realized he wasn't gonna win and Duante was going to send him the winnings before it was over. You just knew who the new wife was gonna be..